Does Facebook Make You Narrow-Minded?

May 22, 2016 by  
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That’s the thrust of Frank Bruni’s thoughtful column in the New York Times where he references social psychologists to assert that we’re turning into “culturally and ideologically inflexible tribes.”

By bookmarking given blogs and personalizing social-media feeds, we customize the news we consume and the political beliefs we’re exposed to as never before. And this colors our days, or rather bleeds them of color, reducing them to a single hue. We construct precisely contoured echo chambers of affirmation that turn conviction into zeal, passion into fury, disagreements with the other side into the demonization of it.

Yes, we’ve all seen that kind of Facebook free-for-all, most recently between the Sanders and Clinton camps–though it can be about anything and happen within minutes.

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But before Facebook was so popular, how many people who use it ever bothered to read editorials expressing political opinions opposite of their own? How many Fox News watchers, for instance, spent an equal amount of time with MSNBC? And how many fans of Michael Signorelli regularly listened to Rush Limbaugh?

Is it possible that we were already fragmented and refractory, and Facebook has just made that more visible? Bruni maintains that “we’re sorting ourselves with a chillingly ruthless efficiency. We’ve surrendered universal points of reference. We’ve lost common ground.” Did we ever have it? Haven’t we always been cranky and disputatious? Facebook (and Twitter) just makes it easier to express our refractory selves.

Truth be told, without Facebook, I likely wouldn’t watch clips from Fox News at all. I also wouldn’t read about various politicians’ outrageous comments (the real ones, not the ones Snopes exposes as fake). And without the Internet itself, I wouldn’t read conservative columnists like Jennifer Rubin at the Washington Post or Bruni’s colleagues Ross Douthat and David Brooks.

I haven’t ever tended to socialize with right wingers or conservative Christians, though I have read books by authors like Dinesh D’Souza–so I’m much more likely to find those views on Facebook (even if they’re framed by someone’s mockery). I might actually be more exposed to them than before.

Facebook brings me news and opinions from a wider variety of sources than I would ever locate on my own, thanks to a polyglot, fiercely curious, international group of friends. My feed is full of surprises thanks to their wide reading. But I’m not any more likely to be won over by cyber views I disagree with than I would be in person. I don’t think I’ve changed, necessarily–the speed of access and commentary has. Is the sky falling? Maybe not.

Lev Raphael is the author of The Vampyre of Gotham and 24 other books in genres from mystery to memoir that you can find on Amazon.

– This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

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Weatherman Freaks Out Over ‘Gigantic’ Spider Live On Air

May 21, 2016 by  
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A meteorologist got the fright of his life when what looked like a gigantic spider appeared on his weather map during a live report.

Bryan Hughes emitted a high-pitched scream as the arachnid crawled across a camera lens just before he was going to forecast the weather for West Virginia on WOWK 13 News on Thursday.

“Argh! Jeez Louise!” he cried out in terror, even though the spider was clearly only normal sized — but appeared much bigger on the screen following its projection.

Hughes walked away in a bid to compose himself, before adding. “Why did that just happen? I nearly lost my lunch. Oh man, saints alive, we’ve gotta get out there and kill those things.”

I couldn't help it. Honestly! I screamed like a little girl. Now, where's the matches and gasoline?!? https://t.co/ik6PHMdZvm

— Bryan Hughes (@bryanweather) May 19, 2016

Video of his hilarious broadcast was posted online, and Hughes soon became a viral sensation.

As the footage spread across the world, Hughes later tweeted he “couldn’t help” screaming out. “Honestly! I screamed like a little girl,” he wrote. “Now, where’s the matches and gasoline?”

But things could have been much worse. 

At least the arachnid didn’t touch him — unlike fellow weatherman Aaron Perlman, who was reporting the morning forecast on KBFX in Bakersfield, California, in 2014 when a live spider fell down onto him from the ceiling.

Double urggh!

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8 Transition Steps From Blogger to a Multi-million Dollar Brand

May 20, 2016 by  
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I will never forget the impression on my face when I first heard that someone in the US could make a living by blogging. That was eight years ago. Five years later, I not only could see that this works in Europe, but I could experience it in my own life. After five years of blogging my blog got huge, we published seven books, and my income started to increase. But there’s always the next step and a motivation factor attached to it. For me, it was seeing stories about bloggers from Europe who could make it happen, like Kristina Bazan, Chiara Ferragni or the handsome Mariano Di Vaio who, when I saw at LAX last October, I only could stand dumbfounded instead of saying hello to him. That’s what social media does. You pick your heroes and you start building them into your daily life. You become the part of their story, and you got shocked when you see them live.

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But what happens, when one day they wake up and someone signs them? What happens when yesterday they were alone in this one-boy-band structure, but starting tomorrow they have management by their side, which hands all the boarding passes to them, and brings in big deals by sponsors? Daniel Saynt, futurist, startup advisor, founder of influencer casting agency Socialyte was sharing insights about all of this over a breakfast in Soho, Manhattan.

1. Exclusivity

While I was in Manhattan I met with several influencer agencies. Most of them don’t ask exclusivity, and there are several who only work with instagrammers who have smaller following base. But when I ask Daniel about this, he says, their agency asks exclusivity:

We represent 70 talents exclusively. We have a couple big ones signed, for example, Adam Galla and Jessica Wang. We have a really good net identifying talents early. We look at their content, we have interviews with them. If we feel like someone can actually grow, we start working with them. Now we are becoming more selective, we get a lot of application.

2. Education

Most of the bloggers when they start out they don’t want to be huge. They just do what they love, and one day they realize the business potential in it. Of course, there are examples of the opposite, when someone completely clear about the next steps and the goals. In both cases when an agency provides education, that can change the game and help the brand grow faster.

We teach them how to use an editorial calendar, we teach them about apps, we make sure they care about the trending topics, we connect them with photographers and videographers, we make them sure we provide great products for their contents, we have a whole travel program, so when they fly around the world they don’t pay at all, plus they get paid for travelling. We have a division just dedicated to brand opportunities, we develop all these deals.

That makes sense.

3. Management = Growth

Just imagine when a blogger does this all on her own. That’s a lot to handle. All the media releases, all the events, the sponsor deals, finding the perfect photographer, booking the next trip and talking about prices with sponsors. After awhile it’s just getting too much to handle alone. That’s when a manager comes into the picture.

“Our talents work 80 hours a week. They are constantly on their phone, they lose relationships because of it,” says Daniel. Can you imagine how they manage to survive their private life while there’s so much to do? I guess, that’s the reason why most influencers have their boyfriends as a photographer or team member- we see a couple of examples where it worked out, and we see more when it doesn’t (just see Kristina Bazan and James Chardon’s story).

very talent works with us gets three people. There is someone who is dedicated to the talent, managing their deals, dedicated to sales, outreach brands, and manages all the incomes, and someone who manages execution, they make sure they have the time when they have to post, make sure to do copywriting, their calendars are set and organized for them.

It’s doable when you have a team supporting you.

4. Fake it till you make it

This is the most important mindset behind building a personal brand. Even Scooter Braun says the same about his beginnings to Lewis Howes in his interview:

I would spend all the money I made on Thursday night parties, on Tuesday night parties where I was the only white boy. They let me in for free because they were so amused that who is this white boy? They saw me poppin’ the bottles, hanging out with these girls, and I wasn’t drinking anything. I sent them bottles. And they said: “What are you doing? I wanna come to your party!

The situation is the same in the very beginning. You can have 10,000 followers and this can be enough to have coach clients, but what you do is you fake it till you make it. You will say in your videos that this client and that client said this and that while you don’t even have a client. Numbers sometimes are important, sometimes doesn’t — but this is what my next post is about.

5. Fake likes — Fake bags — Fake lives

You don’t have to be professional to see whether the following base is fake or not. But what we need to realize is that with every year there are more and more influencers who has millions of followers, and these people are not buying likes. This is doable.

Of course, a lot of people buys fake likes and followers. It’s doable that way, it’s not as authentic, but sometimes you can catch up with that and finally numbers will make sense, but it’s hard. It’s so easy to do and it’s so much money to make. And I think that’s the biggest problem we face right now.

6. Authenticity

But what happens when all these fake tools become real? When they wake up and they live the life they imagined for themselves? When all the fake Louis Vuitton bags? Some of them just forget about authenticity.

Sometimes happens that you give attention to people, in the beginning they are really grateful but later as they see how they grow, they lose the authenticity what the authenticity appreciated. We’ve seen a lot of talents having a bad reputation, there are influencers we no longer work with no matter how big they are.

7. Handle criticism

This world is not for everyone. These talents sometimes show their private life, and become the target of trolls. One of the first bloggers who got hate was Chiara Ferragni, when she broke up with his boyfriend and started dating with an another one. The first time she posted about it, the amount of hate she got was insane.

Everyone was so upset with her. You kind of just deal with it. For her particular she was one of the first bloggers who had a hate site about her. When she has started growing in Italy, she was on MTV, and people were like her bags are fake, what is true a lot of times in the beginning? But that’s how you do it. You fake it till you make it. That’s how stuff happens. You don’t have 10 000 dollars for a Louis Vuitton bag, but you just start out with a fake bag. It works very very quickly. It looks good, luxury, and you post it more often, the brands will pay attention.

But my all time favorite is Mariano Di Vaio who once said in an interview, that since he doesn’t understand most of the language his followers speaks, he doesn’t understand the comments too, so he doesn’t care about negative criticism.

8. Transition from blogger to a multi-million business

The thing what all the agencies try to avoid is the time when a talent says goodbye since he realizes the money he can earn if he has his own team. Of course, in the beginning, the agency has the connection to these big brands and can convince the marketing directors to choose their talents, but later it’s gonna be so different.

I can go to medium, like Adam Galla, or Chiara Ferragni, and a lot of marketing directors don’t care about the influencers, all they care about the results. That’s just started that influencers need managers more. But later the influencer realize, ‘I just now hire a team.’ We work on ways how to prevent that, because we want to work with them, but sometimes it’s hard.

– This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

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My Plea for Women’s Journalism

May 19, 2016 by  
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Why are we accepting mediocre women’s journalism as the only journalism left?

Maybe I’m old fashioned. Maybe I have specific topics and interests that are not as common to write about or explore. Maybe websites exist that I just haven’t heard about yet. These are things I often find myself thinking about when I get online to search for good things to read and browse through, as a woman living in a highly connected technologic world in 2016.

Don’t get me wrong, I have spent many hours and days falling into the trap of click bait and spiraling down a rabbit hole of one article after another. I am guilty of reading listicles. I have read about ways to lose weight while only eating tacos. I’ve read why wine and chocolate are potentially good for my health and which celebrity was seen in Key West drinking a pina colada last week. And for the love of God I have read so many articles about things I should do as a woman before I die (watch a sunset, really? What the hell is that about?) and ten signs your partner may be marriage material. What I’m saying is, let she (or he) who is without sin cast the first stone. Aka she who has read her fair share of articles about happy relationships and hair tips does not get to side eye other women who are reading them too. I know that people make a living writing these articles. And go on girls, get your money. Pay your bills. Live.

But with all of that being said, why are we accepting this type of journalism as the only kind available for women anymore? As a writer, I find it extremely discouraging that some of my work has been rejected because I did not write about “hot button” or “click baity” topics. Or that what I wrote was overly lengthy, and because of that people would get bored after the first half so it didn’t feel like a “good fit” for the audience. Have our attention spans as consumers and as women gotten so small that we would rather read a 300-word article on something like The Bachelor rather than a 2000-word article on girls’ education initiatives in third world countries? I know that supply and demand plays a huge role in what we consume and think we need. But why aren’t we demanding a supply of thought provoking, challenging journalism for women? Can’t that co-exist with what we are reading and enjoying already? I understand the need for entertainment and the vital role that it plays in our lives. Entertainment exists in order to provide a sense of lightness and pleasure in our daily lives. We like media to enter into our days in order to make us laugh, to make us feel joy and to distract us from problems or other things we may be experiencing. But when the only source of news we take and spend time reading is only serving to tickle our fancies, to tell us tips on how to secure a husband, how then are we growing and challenging ourselves as women and as people making a difference?

I’m not calling for death to journalism. Or for the eradication of women’s websites that we all read and enjoy. I’m calling for a reinvention and evaluation of what good journalism looks like for women. This is a men’s issue too, but not in the same way. Society tells women that we need to be concerned with what we look like, how we dress and the kinds of mothers we need to be. Then we give magazines and news sites and articles fuel for this notion because we buy it and don’t ask for more. Something different. We demand it because we are told that those are important things for us as women to care about. I want to read about education, the gender wage gap, efforts to diffuse domestic violence against women, healthcare and paid maternal leave, sex slavery, the treatment of women in prisons, discrimination in the academic and job field- and the list could go on forever.

I want to read about it, rejoice when necessary, be upset about it, form opinions, cry for it, educate myself and others and totally immerse myself in this journalism. There is such a common misconception from people that reading about these issues isn’t helping to solve anything, or “I can’t do anything to help, I’m only one person.” But here’s the thing: the first step in any kind of change or progression is educating yourself on what the issues, problems and conversations are. Even if you are unable to do anything, or lack the care to, at least you have indulged in learning what is going on around you. If we aren’t asking for the journalism, how can we expect the journalism to then exist? People like to point the finger so often that women “are asking for it” when they wear provocative outfits and clothing, or when they walk home alone at night or have alcohol with men in a dark bar. So here I am, a woman asking for it. Except that I’m asking for good journalism, dammit. I’m imploring, yearning, yelling.

If I’ve come across as na├»ve in this essay, it was not my intention. I know it’s unrealistic for us all to solely focus on scholarly and academic articles and journalism all of the time. I am simply urging our society and generation to demand for more in terms of journalism. I am certainly not a perfect consumer of journalism, but I’m working on filtering out the unimportant things. Trying to actively seek and challenge myself with what I read and where I seek it out on a consistent basis. Maybe I am just not informed enough about the journalism out there that exists and is available for women. What are some of websites, articles, books, etc. you read on a daily basis? This is not a public shaming, but rather a call for information for the masses. My plea for women’s journalism to step it up on behalf of women everywhere.

– This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

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I Have Opinions

May 18, 2016 by  
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Remember when having an opinion was no big deal? You would read about something outrageous like, well, just about everything in the news lately. Let’s pick a random story from last week:

New Filipino president Rodrigo Duterte won the election even after saying he would have liked to be first in line to rape an Australian missionary who was gang raped and murdered during a 1989 prison riot in the Philippines.

Or

George Zimmerman, who killed Trayvon Martin, decided to auction off his weapon to the highest bidder.

You would react by penning a letter to the editor or, calling a friend to express your outrage, or put out a contract on these two lowlifes. But now you can share your indignation on your own personal blog, post the story to Facebook so everyone can hate it along with you; you can tweet it in 140 characters of cleverness; you can even create a really cool video around your disgust and post it on Youtube. You can write a very thoughtful piece about stupid men, and post it on Medium, the writing platform, which reports 25-30 million monthly visitors. Hell, I gratefully get to rant on Huffinton Post, which, as of last October, was pulling in 86 million viewers a month. Having opinions is really popular right now!

So why do so many institutions go out of their way to label their opinions as something else? As was reported by Gizmodo this week, contrary to what users assumed, Facebook reports what it thinks is trending, not what their fancy algorithms tell them is really trending. Why not just say so? Here’s what we think is hot news! Did they really worry that FB addicts would be indifferent to their dealer’s take on the best current available high? I would never have guessed they were so lacking in self-esteem. And now everybody’s mad at them. Aw, poor little Facebook.

Amazon.com also has issues with labeling their point of view for what it is–as in, we discriminate against certain companies because we feel like it. That’s my personal experience as a seller on Amazon. Amazon is arguably the biggest retailer in the world; even if you don’t particularly like their business practices, your products kinda need to be there. A couple of years ago, they disappeared my products from the site. Stated reason: the FDA has never officially tested my product category for use on skin. Thousands of skin-care products happily sit on store shelves throughout the U.S. even though they have never been tested by the FDA. This is legal. They banned my products, but not those of my competition. Foul! It took months of emailing to get a response. Well, they never really respond; however, they eventually took everyone else’s products off the site. But a year later, pages and pages of similar products live on Amazon, and no amount of querying to find out why makes a difference. Obviously, Amazon’s opinion is that my product is totally safe–even though its published Restrictions page begs to differ. You’re a big boy, Amazon. You can do whatever you want. Just call it what it is: your opinion. Or arbitrary discrimination.

I could go on regaling you with similar anecdotes, but here is just one last case in point. No need to call out Fox News, which presents itself as a medium for news while blatantly peddling right wing opinions. It’s just that the establishment, so-called responsible press does it too, now. As a matter of course, the New York Times, Washington Post and NPR (just to name three) all breathlessly report news-breaking stories as they happen before the facts have been verified. They sort of cover themselves with disclaimers like This is a breaking story; and We are being told…; and These facts have not yet been confirmed. What they mean to say is We think you’d want to know that there’s a rumor going around… Call me old school but give me facts, ma’am, just the facts. Absent that, just call it what it is–an opinion–and enjoy the clicks.

– This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

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Donald Trump Has Invited The Media To Pick A Side

May 17, 2016 by  
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Reports started bubbling up in the press this spring about how the corporations that provide millions of dollars to fund the Republican National Convention were suddenly skittish about participating in their traditional role of facilitating the GOP’s quadrennial confab. The reason: Donald Trump.

As The New York Times’ Jonathan Martin and Maggie Haberman reported at length, big corporate brands like Walmart, Coca-Cola, Apple and Google had become alarmed that Trump’s “divisive candidacy [had] alienated many women, blacks, and Hispanics.” In other words, being seen as too closely tied to the GOP front-runner might be bad for business.

A few weeks later, Politico’s Anna Palmer and Brianna Gurciullo reported on the somewhat-predictable twist: Trump was similarly imperiling the Democratic convention and the corporate funds they use to subsidize their gathering:

None of the firms are publicly pointing to Trump as the reason they’re staying away. But the GOP’s more well-documented struggles appear to be taking a toll on Democrats, since many companies prefer to give to both conventions or neither in order to project an image of balance.

That the party conventions — ostensibly a public good and a vital part of our democracy — require corporate boodle to even happen is something we could spend several paragraphs discussing. But for now, let’s leave that aside. Here we have major corporations blanching at ponying up for a Trump convention because they properly recognize that he is, on every level, toxic waste in human form.

But in their next move, this recognition is overridden by something these corporations favor even more: the need to be perceived as neutral. And so, everyone who isn’t “Donald Trump, madman,” has to similarly suffer.

It’s something of a deranged arrangement. But our noble corporate underwriters of democracy needn’t feel alone. This is a conundrum political journalists are also wrestling with: How can you provide “balanced” coverage of a race in which one candidate is entirely unconventional? In fact, let us note, one of the things we often do as this struggle ensues is use the weasel word “unconventional,” when we mean to say “dangerously unhinged and narcissistic autocrat.” (And we are perhaps using the weasel word “autocrat” to stand in for “fascist,” at that.)

The alternative, of course, is that the media might accidentally normalize Trump, in a witless abandonment of all the evidence that should objectively lead away from this conclusion. 

On the May 13 edition of “On The Media,” host Bob Garfield explicitly warned against this process of normalization.

Garfield was reacting to Trump’s recent appearances on the Sunday morning political salons, during which the hosts genially asked Trump about his plans for trade, taxes and the like as if these policy positions were the matter of singular interest to journalists covering Trump. (Trump has indicated that he has no real interest in policy positions, characterizing them all as chimeric “suggestions” designed to provide no foothold for critique.)

Says Garfield:

The man is a menace of historic proportions, so who the Chuck Todd cares about his tax proposals? It’s like asking Charles Manson about his driving record. But here comes the political press, going into standard general election mode and treating a demagogue as a legitimate standard-bearer, as if the only thing he has to answer for is the latest blip in the news cycle.

[...]

With every oh-so-decorous question about tax policy or the national debt, the media are not simply abetting him but normalizing him. In effect, accepting his grotesque path to the nomination.

The necessary prescriptive, Garfield says, is for every Trump interview to “hold him accountable for bigotry, incitement, juvenile conduct and blithe contempt for the Constitution.” 

At the bottom of this post, my editors (perhaps lacking confidence in my ability to affirm these things about Trump, but that’s a conversation for another day) will have affixed an editor’s note confirming that we agree with what Garfield prescribes. Other media outlets have stirred in a similar direction. At PressThink, New York University journalism professor Jay Rosen provides a lengthy discursion on the topic of neutrality in the age of a Trump candidacy, citing two prominent examples of media leaders who are opting for a different approach.

One is BuzzFeed Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith, who issued a Dec. 8, 2015, social media usage directive to his staff in which he clarifies that it is “entirely fair to call [Trump] a mendacious racist,” because he is “out there saying things that are false, and running an overtly anti-Muslim campaign.” This is, Smith underscores, a matter of fact, adding that “there is nothing partisan about accurately describing Donald Trump.”

A second example was the nearly simultaneous broadcast of a Tom Brokaw editorial on NBC Nightly News, in which the venerable newsman described Trump’s proposed blanket ban on Muslims as “a dangerous proposal that overrides history, the law and the foundation of America itself,” reminiscent of other historical moments in which “the consequences of paranoia overriding reason” were laid bare.

Smith’s and Brokaw’s actions did not go unnoticed. CNN’s Dylan Byers, in a Dec. 10 column, made note of this “backlash” against Trump, calling it a “watershed moment” in which “news organizations [abandoned] concerns about impartiality and evenhandedness and stating what they believe are objective truths” about Trump.

Rosen discusses how “impartiality and evenhandedness” became a sort of “ritual,” semi-divorced from “objective truth” at length. It would be of benefit to read the whole thing, because Rosen’s discussion would help reinforce what “picking a side” means in this context. It’s not advocacy for some sort of journalistic skullduggery. Telling the truth is still the order of the day: to lie about Donald Trump is to undermine the overall cause of integrity. This is about couching reporting in equivocating terms, which — as I’m sure Smith and Brokaw would contend — robs the truth of its vitality.

But in summation, Rosen notes that while the “ritual” of neutrality would normally lead news organizations to adopt some point of view high above the fray, Smith and Brokaw made a different call, one in which they either decided that they were not “vulnerable to criticism” for doing so, or “didn’t care” if they were.

That’s really what the “neutral” feint is: an effort expended by news organizations to insulate themselves from these type of attacks. This, Rosen reckons, is an “understandable” pose to take, but didn’t, in and of itself, make journalism “legitimate.”

Per Rosen:

Protection will come from being specialists in verification who are allergic to any party line. Accountability journalism blows “balance” out of the water. Intellectual honesty is far more important than a ritualized objectivity. Recover your voice and people will have reason to listen.

Of course, it can be difficult for many news organizations to simply adopt a “bring it on” attitude about these things. Elections tend to be reported as events of warring, equally worthy ideas. Deference is offered to all comers out of both the desire to be polite arbiters, and to also maintain media access to the players. The political media tends to like their grand narrative of competition, with ups and downs, best weeks and worst weeks, stumbles and comebacks. So equivalences are drawn for the sake of staging.

In fairness to most other American presidential candidates, very few provide the media with a strong case for deviating from this approach. Trump is unique to this milieu in that he routinely, and intentionally, says highly disturbing and irresponsible things that can’t not make one question whether he belongs within a country mile of the nuclear football. He’s made it ripe to break with the ritual of even-handedness — it should actually not be surprising at all to see people like Smith and Brokaw explicitly break from traditional paths.

But Trump is unique in another way that should make it easy for journalists to abandon this neutral pose. In another move unique among American political candidates, Trump has openly invited us to do so, by declaring himself, rather forthrightly, to be in open hostility to a free press. He’s not merely complaining about coverage or carping about media bias, as Newt Gingrich famously did during the 2012 presidential primary debates. Trump explicitly talks about destroying the freedom of the press.

In other words, he’s taken a side, which absolves the media of the consequences of doing the same.

Trump’s promise to menace the media is something he has consistently voiced throughout this campaign season. For example, much attention has been paid to his threat to “open up” the libel laws, to enable him to take a measure of revenge against the media. As I’ve discussed before, I don’t necessarily think of this as something that could be practically implemented. To change libel laws, Trump would have to convince Congress to take up his “protect me, specifically, from criticism” cause. It’s unlikely the legislature would do so, unlikelier still that the courts would uphold this as constitutional. 

But even if he could convince legislative majorities and five Supreme Court justices to go along with a plan to change the libel laws, it’s highly unlikely these bodies would arrive at the standard that Trump clearly prefers. Current law mandates that the standard for demonstrable libel is a higher hurdle for people like Trump to clear, than individuals who cannot be reasonably thought of as “public figures.” But even if the public figure/private citizen standard could be made square, there is a longstanding tradition in libel cases that the truth is always the best defense, and it’s hard to see even hardened Trump allies changing this standard — if only because it would greatly benefit their own political opponents.

But this is why it’s useful to reflect on Trump’s stated desire to “open up” the libel laws — Trump doesn’t distinguish between negative commentary about him and objectively true facts that cast him in a bad light. To Trump, these are one and the same. Reporting that makes Trump look good is permissible, that which does not is, as far as he’s concerned, libel and slander. And Trump has more potent ideas about how he’d tear down media organizations that do not conform to his desires than simply altering libel laws.

New York Magazine’s Jonathan Chait, in explicating how Trump’s brand of “authoritarianism would actually work,” seizes on an example that involves the press.

As Chait reports, Trump, in a rambling monologue recently delivered to Fox News’ Sean Hannity, took issue with the negative coverage he has received from The Washington Post, along with the Post’s stated intent to just go right along reporting true things about him. Seizing on the fact that the paper is owned by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Trump sends this basic message: It’d be a real shame if something happened to Amazon because of the Post’s reporting.

TRUMP: It’s interesting that you say that, because every hour we’re getting calls from reporters from the Washington Post asking ridiculous questions. And I will tell you. This is owned as a toy by Jeff Bezos, who controls Amazon. Amazon is getting away with murder, tax-wise. He’s using the Washington Post for power. So that the politicians in Washington don’t tax Amazon like they should be taxed. He’s getting absolutely away — he’s worried about me, and I think he said that to somebody … it was in some article, where he thinks I would go after him for antitrust. Because he’s got a huge antitrust problem because he’s controlling so much. Amazon is controlling so much of what they’re doing.

Unlike his plans for libel laws, this is something that Trump could potentially pull off as president, in conjunction with the legislature. Trump would also command a host of regulatory agencies to do his bidding. As Chait notes elsewhere, Trump ally Roger Stone has already spoken about Trump using the office to “turn off” CNN’s “FCC license.” 

Of course, every great con job begins with a kernel of truth, and as Chait notes, there is a decent argument that Amazon does have a “huge antitrust problem.” But this isn’t Trump advocating for fair business practices (that would sure be a first!). He’s threatening to use anti-trust law exclusively against his perceived media enemies. By extension, it’s clear that the reverse is true: Favorable coverage from The Washington Post would lead Trump to look the other way.

You see, Trump doesn’t want the media to be neutral. He wants the media to shower him with favor, and he promises to reward those that do and punish those that don’t. His hope is that by threatening to use his office to destroy the media, he will encourage fervent, hagiographic coverage of his candidacy, and limit its criticism.

Really, the best argument against attempting “neutral” coverage of Trump is that Trump has very plainly demanded that coverage of his campaign not be neutral. 

This is, as with all things Trump, a “deal” he wants to make, with very clear terms. One can choose to join a Trump brigade of latter-day Pétainist sycophants, flatter Trump as a savior and be rewarded in kind, or one can factually condemn him, using his own words and deeds, as a dangerous presidential nominee and risk his wrath. But as the reporting of “true things that Trump doesn’t like” is enough to earn this enmity, performing the old ritual of even-handedness no longer offers anyone any protection. There is no “third side.” You can’t go “down the middle” anymore. 

This is, as they say, a time for choosing. However you decide, I suggest you go all in.

~~~~~

Jason Linkins edits “Eat The Press” for The Huffington Post and co-hosts the HuffPost politics podcast “So, That Happened.” Subscribe here, and listen to the latest episode below.

Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liarrampant xenophoberacistmisogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.

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Holy Smokes! USA Today Doesn’t Know Where Colorado Is

May 16, 2016 by  
Filed under Videos

Weed recommend USA Today grab a map.

In its recent story about marijuana smuggling in Colorado, the paper got its states mixed up. The piece on the pot traffickers included a map that incorrectly identified Wyoming as Colorado. 

“But marijuana remains illegal in every state surrounding Colorado, and law enforcement in those neighbors are looking for it,” reads the text around the graphic. However, the dark blue state in the image that is supposedly supplying bud to surrounding states isn’t Colorado. 

#USAToday appears to have a problem identifying #Colorado on a map. Perhaps they are high? #funny #news #propaganda pic.twitter.com/R9YMPkOs9b

— Patrick White (@mrreactionary) May 16, 2016

Mapmaker Janet Loehrke was a little higher than she should’ve been in identifying the location of the state writer Trevor Hughes was discussing –because Wyoming is above Colorado on the map. (What did you think we meant?)

Naturally, social media LOVED this mishap and ran away with it. 

Geography is obviously VERY HARD for the Folks at USA Today who have a totally mislabeled Map of Marijuana Smuggling from Wyoming!

— SMART DOG (@FURDOG54) May 15, 2016

USA Today: Colorado has been moved to Wyoming due to map-maker smoking too much Colorado pot.

Meanwhile,… https://t.co/xTXwR0zoAg

— Iain C. Murray-Ayers (@IainCMurray) May 15, 2016

I always knew it was Wyoming's fault! THAT'S where we really need to build a wall… https://t.co/tuDkNDvq6v

— Matt Duffy Chidley (@mattduffyjr) May 17, 2016

 Even Wyoming got into it. 

USA Today Map Blames Wyoming for Colorado Marijuana Smuggling – Westword https://t.co/CTiV7F3dxz

— Wyoming News (@WyomingNews365) May 16, 2016

The map has since been swapped out for a correct one, but luckily, the Internet has immortalized it.

Anyone up for a trip to Denver?

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An Open Letter to Punjabi-Canadian YouTuber Jus Reign for Criticizing Azealia Banks

May 15, 2016 by  
Filed under Videos

By Bicky Khosla

Dear Jus Reign,

The world knows how funny you are. Your Snapchats are hilarious, and your YouTube videos are ROFL funny, but let’s take a moment to thank you for shutting down rapper Azealia Banks with her derogatory and outlandish remarks targeted at singer Zayn Malik.

Not only did you shut down her nasty remarks, but you managed to turn her bigoted inflammatory statement into a powerful uniting movement for the South Asian community. Even better, you managed to (kind of) get a public apology from the rapper on her Twitter, which was recently suspended (let’s all be thankful the big guys at Twitter pulled the strings on this one).

So, not only did you stand up for the former One Direction band member but you took matters into your own hands.

"imma start calling u [region in India full of beauty, agriculture and rich culture] you [actual insult word]"

- @AZEALIABANKS

— Very Sweetu Boy (@JusReign) May 10, 2016

You instigated a very potent social movement across the world. One minute we see you addressing the hypocrisy of Banks who is seen rocking South Asian-inspired jewelry in her videos and taking an interest in Goddess Durga, but then she bashes our heritage and culture by using racial slurs. The next minute we see #curryscentedbitch start trending throughout social media outlets. Quite ironic, since Azealia has Mother Durga – the goddess of power in her home. However, in the same token she is degrading the culture that introduced her to such a powerful deity. Thank you for pointing out that contradiction with her statements versus her actions.

And before we know it, #curryscentedbitch starts to trend on all social media outlets.

drops paki and sand n*gga as insults but wears a koka and bindi in her vids … wait what??? pic.twitter.com/zJirOTn6V3

— Very Sweetu Boy (@JusReign) May 10, 2016

While some people may not agree with acknowledging the bitch part of the hashtag, #curryscentedbitch, you made it very clear, this term is only being used to empower South Asians who face discrimination every day due to their skin color, their accents, and Islamophobia.

In a short period of time, we saw Banks ranting on Twitter to beautifully decked out stunning women embracing their desi culture from all over the world.

the badde$$t #curryscentedbitch @ ur service

?? pic.twitter.com/pJZzpImc8I

— punjab (@Kay__Ray) May 11, 2016

#CurryScentedBitch at ya service , anyone want a semi round roti?? pic.twitter.com/ShUKTRsrIH

— Sana? (@SanaBanana3) May 11, 2016

#curryscentedbitch but I still slay your life pic.twitter.com/G5sHjGWI8X

— Gurleena Singh (@gurleeenax) May 11, 2016

That, my friend, is thanks to you and your boldness. You taught us to have courage and to make sure we stand up, even if it’s not directed towards us. For that, we salute you!

Love,

Curry-Scented Brown Girls Everywhere <3

Bicky Khosla was born and raised in South Florida with two bachelor degrees from Florida Atlantic University. She enjoys traveling, spending time with her dog, and reading non-fiction. She is passionate about highlighting South Asian achievements, raising awareness about Sikhism and the importance of religious tolerance. Khosla currently works as a healthcare recruiter for a company that provides medical services for both adults and pediatrics.

This post was originally published on Brown Girl Magazine. Click here to read more!

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Jennifer Lawrence Has Just 2 Words To Say To Donald Trump

May 15, 2016 by  
Filed under Videos

Jennifer Lawrence has no love for Donald Trump. That much is clear.

And the actress has now revealed exactly what she wanted to say when she came close to meeting the presumptive Republican presidential nominee in person: “Hey Trump, fuck you!”

Lawrence disclosed what would have been her message to the billionaire real estate magnate on “The Graham Norton Show,” which aired in the U.K. on Friday night.

Fellow Hollywood star Johnny Depp was talking about playing Trump for comedy website Funny or Die when the show’s host, Norton, asked Lawrence if she’d ever met The Donald.

I was at a concert where I heard he was attending, so I had my full security team, like I was like ‘find Donald Trump,’” she said. “I was adamant on finding him and making a video of me going, ‘Hey Trump, fuck you!’”

Lawrence has, of course, spoken out against Trump before.

“If Donald Trump becomes president, that will be the end of the world,” she said in an interview with Entertainment Weekly in Oct. 2015.

 

Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liarrampant xenophoberacistmisogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.

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Michael Moore Calls Flint Crisis A ‘Hate Crime’ Based On GOP’s ‘Race Hatred’

May 14, 2016 by  
Filed under Videos

Michael Moore has called the Flint water crisis a “hate crime.”

Speaking on “Real Time with Bill Maher” on Friday night, the Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker ripped the way Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) and his administration dealt with the lead poisoning of his home city’s water supply.

“This is not a lead issue, this is not even an infrastructure issue,” he told Maher, adding that it boiled down to Snyder’s decision to “give the rich in Michigan a $1 billion tax break” — which left the state with a budget deficit, and prompted it to switch the city’s source of tap water from the Great Lakes to the Flint River.

“Within a few months they realized they were poisoning people and the word came down ‘don’t say anything,’” said Moore. “And they let people continue to drink the water and did nothing about it, and I think that’s a crime.”

“They did it because it’s a black city, it’s a poor city,” he added. “They wouldn’t do this to Bloomfield Hills or Ann Arbor or Grosse Pointe. This was a hate crime. It was a hate crime based on this race hatred of this particular party.”

The Democrats were also to blame, added Moore, who said he was “very upset” after President Barack Obama was pictured earlier this month drinking a glass of filtered Flint water to prove how safe it now was. 

“It was just a stunning sad thing to see happen,” said Moore. “Nobody’s gonna worry about it. [...] It’s really shameful that he did that.” 

Watch Friday night’s full clip above.

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